Photo by Phil Borreson
Within minutes, Albert Hammond Jr. teases his onlookers from onstage at the Turf Club. “I was looking at real estate here today,” he says, punctuating the remark with a lopsided smirk. The near-capacity crowd responds with little more than a couple whoops and hollers. Across the first three rows, several sets of eyes widen, perhaps believing it true or, at the least, hoping it’s not some ploy to butter them up. To their misfortune, Hammond Jr. lobs up a punch line instead: “…until I saw the forecast. [laughs] Oh yeah, burn.”
Hammond Jr. had managed to do what his opening band, Walking Shapes, and so, so, so many bands before him had done: reminded us we live somewhere cold.
Cliche ice-breaker aside, the Strokes guitarist's band might have been better named "Albert Hammond and the Juniors" because his undeniable knack for energizing the crowd, constrained only by the limits of the 15 by 15 foot stage, stole the show.
“Touche” and “Caught By My Shadow”—both tracks off his most recent full-length, Momentary Masters—evoked Hammond Jr.’s real wild side. Oftentimes, he’d hammer the strings of his white Stratocaster so hard that his face would flush red as veins flared off his temples and he gnashed his teeth.
Over his 17-song set, Hammond Jr. took no less than three jabs to the spine from his bandmates guitar heads, yet this lessened his virtuosity not a bit. As the midnight hour approached and with it the show’s end, Hammond Jr.’s workout had taken a visibly sweaty toll. “God, it’s hot all of a sudden,” he said between guzzles of water. “It must be the humidity.”
In just two hours it had gone from breezy to boiling. Sounds like Minnesota, all right.